Threat at Chelsea High Ends up a Hoax, Wrong CHS

Threat at Chelsea High Ends up a Hoax, Wrong CHS

In a world where every threat to a school has to be taken seriously, that played out on Monday morning at Chelsea High when the schools were put on alert by a social media threat to “CHS” that turned out to be a month old and referring to a school in New Mexico.

Supt. Mary Bourque said around 7:15 a.m. Monday, Officer Dan Delaney was alerted to a threat observed on social media by a parent, a threat that indicated the person was “going to shoot up CHS.”

Bourque said it was unfortunate, but it was something that’s going to happen more often.

“It turns out it was a month old and was referring to a school in New Mexico,” she said. “Every threat has to be taken seriously. We can’t afford to not take threats seriously. At the same time, this is going to be what it’s like in the times we live in…It’s a sign of the times these weekly incidents for schools will be happening. It’s happening around the nation and we’re no different.”

The high school was functioning normally shortly after the threat was investigated.

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Experience the Wonders of LUZIA! Cirque du Soleil’s Astounding Production Opens June 27 at Suffolk Downs

Experience the Wonders of LUZIA! Cirque du Soleil’s Astounding Production Opens June 27 at Suffolk Downs

Cirque du Soleil is coming to Boston with its delightfully-imaginative and visually-stunning production LUZIA, a waking dream of Mexico. From June 27 – July 29, 2018, audiences are invited to a redesigned white-and-gold Big Top at Suffolk Downs to escape to an imaginary Mexico – a sumptuous world suspended between dreams and reality.

In a series of grand visual surprises and breathtaking acrobatic performances, LUZIA takes audiences on a surrealistic journey through a vibrant world filled with wonders, playfulness and striking artistry. Smoothly passing from an old movie set to the ocean to a smoky dance hall or an arid desert, LUZIA cleverly brings to the stage multiple places, faces and sounds of Mexico taken from both tradition and modernity. Rich in awe-inspiring moments, LUZIA enchants by incorporating rain into acrobatic and artistic scenes – a first for a Cirque du Soleil touring production.

 “LUZIA(…) is superb. 4 stars!” – The Chicago Tribune

“Dazzle(s) the eye with luminous spectacle and gasp-worthy, derring-do.” – Bay Area News Group

 “Full of wow feats and gorgeous stage pictures” – The Toronto Star

With mesmerizing and refreshing acrobatic performances, LUZIA brings traditional and contemporary circus disciplines to a whole new level. Cyr Wheel artists perform the unprecedented feat of rolling and spinning under the rain, while an aerialist suspended from a Trapeze flies and twirls through pouring showers. Hoop Diving is taken onto gigantic treadmills, expanding exponentially the speed and amount of daring leaps executed. Jaw-dropping highlights include a male contortionist skillfully twisting his body in the world’s most unimaginable positions, a powerful Aerial Straps specialist defying the laws of gravity at the center of a cenote (natural sinkhole), and two football (soccer) freestylers deftly mixing street dance with mind-blowing ball manipulation.

Public tickets for Boston performances of LUZIA are now available at www.cirquedusoleil.com/luzia. Tickets start at $36.

For more information, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com/luzia.

To watch a preview video of LUZIA, visit www.cirk.me/LUZIA_Preview.

To learn more about the integration of water in LUZIA, watch http://cirk.me/LUZIAWaterVideo.

#LUZIAself – the LUZIA webseries

Discover the unique stories, talent and passions of 14 selected cast members of LUZIA through a series of 10 lighthearted webisodes: http://cirk.me/LuziaSelf.

Follow #LUZIA and #cirquedusoleil on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

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The Opioid Epidemic is Truly Frightening

The Opioid Epidemic is Truly Frightening

If you were to ask the typical American what they believe to be the greatest danger to the well-being of our children and citizens, no doubt most would answer the threat from international terrorism.

But the reality is that terrorism, even if you count the World Trade Center attack on 9/11, registers barely a blip on the screen of actual threats to the safety of American citizens.

Tens of thousands of our people are killed each and every year by guns and drunk drivers, numbers that each and every year far surpass the number of Americans killed by terrorist acts.

Then consider that the Centers for Disease Control estimate that two million people in the United States are infected annually by hospital-acquired infections, resulting in 20,000 deaths. The CDC also tells us that cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including more than 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. This is about one in five deaths annually, or 1,300 deaths every day.

To a large extent, we have met the enemy, and he is us.

But now, tobacco use aside, there is a threat to our collective national health that rapidly has surpassed most other means by which Americans die and which poses an immediate danger to our children.  We are talking about deaths from the opioid epidemic that, according to figures researched by the New York Times, increased by 20 percent from 2015 to 2016 and was responsible for the deaths of almost 60,000 Americans last year.

These numbers are staggering when you think about it. That one-year total represents more Americans than were killed in the entirety of the Vietnam War and about 20 times the number of American soldiers killed in the Iraq war — and this is happening year-after-year-after-year.

Traditional heroin is not the culprit. Rather, the synthetic opioids, most prominently fentanyl and carfentanil, which are far more potent than heroin (but which are much cheaper to manufacture), are responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of our people when they are laced into, or substitute for, heroin, cocaine, and even marijuana.

These opioids are being manufactured and shipped into the United States primarily from China. Mexico formerly was the principal manufacturing site, but these drugs are so powerful (carfentanil is an elephant tranquilizer that is 5000 times more powerful than heroin) that they can be shipped in very small, undetectable quantities and still make huge profits for drug dealers.

Two 13 year old boys recently died in Utah from an overdose of powerful synthetic opioids that were provided to them by a 15 year old boy who had obtained them over the internet from China.

Just a few grains of these synthetic opioids in powder form can kill a person — that’s how strong they are — and they are being mixed into recreational drugs by drug dealers who clearly do not care about the health of the persons to whom they sell their poison.

Our law enforcement and health officials must devise creative and innovative ways to treat this epidemic because the traditional model of law enforcement clearly is not working.

In addition, it is up to every parent to warn their children of the dangers of illicit drugs. “Recreational drug use” has taken on a new meaning these days — instant death — and this requires parents to be ever-vigilant to ensure that their children do not fall victim to what has become a national scourge that is getting worse.

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Licensing Issues Taking Center Stage at Council

By Seth Daniel

License Commission member Ken Umemba and other allies who backed his appointment fired back this week at Councillor Roy Avellaneda – a former License Commissioner – after he led an attempt to reject the re-appointment of Umemba last week.

Avellaneda said at the time it was one of many more changes he wanted to make due to concerns he developed while serving on the Commission.

That controversial action last week, which resulted in a 5-5 vote of the Council – which was enough to approve the re-appointment of Umemba, sparked controversy and Umemba said it was an unexpected attack.

“I refute the recent disingenuous and incendiary remarks that Councillor Roy Avellaneda espouses to defame and undermine the stellar record of the Chelsea Licensing Board and myself as a member,” wrote Umemba. “We do not have to search far to realize the progress the board has made in the past few years. A check of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts – Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) – decision’s website indicates how we have performed over these years. The Licensing Board literally made fewer trips to ABCC in Boston to appeal cases, than any other urban city in the Commonwealth. The board has demonstrated extreme patience and restraint in making fair and balanced decisions.

“Avellaneda lamented openly in the Chelsea Record newspaper that he was disappointed,” Umemba continued. “Despite the concerns he raised against me by name that ‘the councilors decided to vote more on feelings…over actual things that happen at the meetings,’ he fails flatly here to realize that those councillors aren’t easily cowed or influenced. They are independent-minded and saw through the fog of his innuendos to reject his concerted effort to tarnish a stellar record.”

Umemba pointed to the fact that Avellaneda served only two months ago with him and other commissioners on the very board he criticizes – saying he must have “amnesia” in now throwing his former colleagues under the bus.

Avellaneda said it was no such thing, and that he’s been calling for change since last November – after he was elected to Council, as he doesn’t believe the current Commission has been harsh enough on many of the bars that violate the licensing rules – especially those that frequently do so.

“I have been calling for this for awhile,” he said. “It’s nothing new. Maybe it’s new to him, but it’s not new. I have been working on this with the chief of police, the Law Department and the City Manager. I think I started voicing my concerns back in November. It’s not been done in a vacuum.”

A former License Commissioner, Bruce Black, who served with Avellaneda and Umemba, has also now weighed in on the matter. In a letter to the Council, he scourged those who voted against Umemba and called it politicizing the Board.

“The actions of the band of five council members (Avellaneda, Cortell, Frank, Tejada & Murphy) to ambush Ken Umemba’s re-appointment to the Licensing Commission was shameful, cloaked behind false arguments and hidden agendas,” he wrote. “The assault on the City Charter is equally alarming. The council should keep politics and personal ambition out of the boards and commissions. As for Ken Umemba, I served with him on the Licensing Commission. While I don’t believe I agreed with any commission member 100% of the time, there was never any question with regard to Ken’s integrity, sincerity and desire to serve the City of Chelsea in a positive way…His ethics have never been in question; he has never stood to profit from any action.”

The ethics part of Black’s letter opened up a wider question that has been hinted at for some time, and that is the fact that Avellaneda’s real estate company listed the Las Palmas building for sale only days after Avellaneda and the Board voted to strip the restaurant/bar of its license.

“Within a week of the revocation vote, and before the decision to revoke was even written, Avellaneda was advertising himself as the listing agent for the sale of the Las Palmas property,” wrote Black. “Not only does that explain his attempt to reconsider the revocation in order to obtain a higher sale price, but also reeks of a major conflict of interest, and should be entirely unacceptable.”

Avellaneda said that was partially true, but it wasn’t what it seemed.

“The reality is I voted to take away a license,” he said. “It was a unanimous decision due to an incident. A few days later the owner came to my father’s bakery looking for me and asking me to put the building on the market. Why did she come to me? I don’t know. I do a lot of commercial sales in the city. That’s on record. Many people know that. In hindsight, was it the smartest move to accept a listing from someone I had just voted to take away a license from? No. It probably wasn’t from a standpoint of being above even the perception of doing something wrong. We took it off the market. I think they have it back up, but not with me.

“They’re going to start throwing stones now and I understand because I voted against Plaza Mexico,” he continued. “Leo Robinson already tried to take that to the Ethics Commission because that was one of his hangouts, Plaza Mexico.”

Umemba wrote that the Plaza Mexico decision was one in which the majority of the Board voted to suspend the restaurant and bar while Avellaneda voted to revoke the license. He said Avellaneda continues to march to that minority opinion.

“Avellaneda has continued to stoke and flame his minority opinion regarding the majority decision reached in that case,” he wrote. “His discountenance with the majority rejection of his insatiable draconian desire to ‘revoke’ instead of ‘suspend’ Plaza Mexico’s license highlights his abject lack of understanding of proper application of jurisprudence during his tenure at the Commission.”

Avellaneda disagreed and said the most recent License Commission, on Tuesday night, highlighted why he did not want Umemba back on the Board.

He said discussion was underway about Heller’s Liquors and three violations that they were being cited for, including selling to a minor, over serving and violating their promise not to sell “nips.” In that discussion, Avellaneda said Umemba’s comments were off base and he was talking about a two-week suspension when others were talking about six months.

“Everyone else is talking about six months and he’s talking about two weeks,” he said. “They’ve been before the board multiple times and stood accused of breaking three violations and he’s talking about two weeks. That’s why I didn’t want that re-appointment. This is an example of him being too lax on people. His questioning was also way off with Heller’s. Everyone talked about the three violations and he was talking about the attorney’s website. That’s ridiculous and that’s what I was talking about.”

Black countered that the Council went down a road where they made the process political.

“I write with a sense of disappointment, as it appears that this City Council has begun a process of ignoring the City Charter and injecting politics into Boards and Commissions,” he wrote. “In the process, you have done a great disservice to a respected and honorable member of our community, Kenneth Umemba, who has selflessly volunteered his time and efforts to contribute to the City of Chelsea.”

Avellaneda said it wasn’t political, but was part of the Council process. He also said he’ll stand by his vote and his campaign to clean up the establishments in the city.

“We are appointing judge and jury here,” he said. “That’s what the License Commission is. This was an opportunity to vote out a judge that I think is too lax, especially in light of the concerns in the community about the downtown area by individuals, businesses and parents.”

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My Record on the Licensing Board Speaks for Itself

By Ken Umemba

I write to refute the recent incendiary remarks that Councillor Roy Avellaneda recently espouses to defame and undermine the stellar record of the Chelsea Licensing Board and myself as a member. We do not have to search far to realize the progress the board has made in the past few years.

A check of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts – Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) – decision’s website indicates how we have performed over these years. The Licensing Board literally made fewer trips to ABCC in Boston to appeal cases, than any other urban city in the Commonwealth.

The board has demonstrated extreme patience and restraint in making fair and balanced decisions. This explains the board’s infrequent trips to ABCC, and highlights the reasons that establishments and regular citizens, who follow board proceedings; believe in their rulings.

Avellaneda served along with myself and others for over six years on the Commission, and he never ever made his disaffection known to anyone. He participated in his last meeting barely two months ago. No sooner than he leaves his colleagues on the Licensing Board and his voting records behind, he seems to have developed amnesia, as he ascends to his new throne at the City Council Chamber and calls for the heads of his former fellow commissioners to roll.

Avellaneda lamented openly in the Chelsea Record that he was disappointed.

Despite the concerns that he raised against me by name that “the councilors decided to vote more on feelings…over actual things that happen at the meetings,” he fails flatly here to realize that those councillors aren’t easily cowed or influenced. They are independent-minded and saw through the fog of his innuendos to reject his concerted effort to tarnish a stellar record.

He championed impactful decisions at the Licensing Commission. Two decisions in particular, Las Palmas and Plaza Mexico, I need mention here. Those were the only occasions that board suffered serious harm at ABCC, throughout the entire period I have been on the Board.

Implicit in Avellaneda’s innuendos is that I was complicit in the two aforementioned decisions that culminated to the board losing its “appeal recently on Las Palmas at the state level.” He portrays to the public that in both cases, he was more concerned than other commissioners of the welfare of the young man whose head was cracked open. Well, I, Ken Umemba, was never in attendance when both cases that Roy alluded to were decided.

Decisions that were made against Plaza Mexico when the establishment made a second appearance before the board need to be clearly distinguished as it has received different responses from many in our community. Avellaneda has continued to flame his minority opinion regarding the majority decision reached in that case.

His dissatisfaction with the majority of the Board rejecting his desire to “revoke” instead of “suspend” Plaza Mexico’s license highlights his abject lack of understanding of proper application of jurisprudence during his tenure at the Commission.

Although the board is imbued with the authority to grant, revoke, and suspend licenses; their proper use is not meant to be as retribution. The context for their usage must be based on “substantial evidence” which “is more than just some evidence to support the conclusion.” The law is clear and well-settled on what does not constitute as substantial evidence. Evidence from which a rational mind might draw the desired inference is not enough. So, the disbelief of any particular evidence does not constitute substantial evidence to the contrary.

Local boards can’t exceed their discretional latitude regarding disciplinary actions. Therefore, the decision that Plaza Mexico received was acted “upon consideration of the entire record” presented to the board. The majority decision that Roy and other councillors object to, took “into account whatever in the record fairly detracts from its weight” as it rightly opted to “suspend.”

Hence, Avellaneda continues to protest the decision that majority felt to be appropriate sanction. His protest and claim strain credulity because the board was not presented with formidable adverse evidence to affirm his suspicions.

Commissioners make very conscientious efforts to examine facts to reach independent judgments. There is no doubt that, inherently, we are guided by our individual conscience when we examine facts. But, absent the framework grounded in the rule of law, decisions would be all over the place.

We marry our emotions and the rule of law in our decision-making process, as most members of the board understand that conscience is “essentially a judgment of the intellect.” According to a religious pamphlet, conscience is not a tablet, or a book which contains marks indicating good or bad behavior, nor is it some other being inside us giving orders, issuing warnings.

Clearly, the Church and the rule of law help us to form correct consciences by clearly providing objective standards for moral conduct. Hence, we see our conscience as our most secret core and our sanctuary where we are alone with God whose voice echoes in our depths…and the more the correct conscience prevails, the more we turn aside from emotional and blind choices and try to be guided by the objective standards of conduct.

The board does not “condone” Plaza Mexico’s recalcitrance in complying with licensing laws. However, conscientious and objective applications of the law required full consideration in the preponderance of the facts and if they are substantial evidence. Also, to examine if “it is, thus, quite possible for licensee to offend the regulatory scheme without scienter.” The board never purports to be a courthouse where infringed families seek remedy to be made whole again.

That’s beyond our jurisprudence.

Kenneth Umemba, Member

Chelsea Licensing Board Commission

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Plaza Mexico Six-Month Suspension Doesn’t Go Far Enough

While a six-month license suspension is serious, I believe it comes far short of the punishment warranted after the incident the Chelsea Police Department described at the Licensing Commission meeting last month regarding Plaza Mexico, which is in my district.

After a 17 year-old was nearly eviscerated by a known drug dealer, in full view of the restaurant’s manager and patrons, the teen was subsequently locked out of the restaurant and left to bleed out; despite family and friends banging on the back door, no one from Plaza Mexico answered their calls for help. In spite of the fact the bar manager and numerous patrons witnessed the stabbing, the only call for help from the establishment came in the form of a wishy-washy call to the Police Department’s non-emergency line from Miguel Sanchez, who himself was not on scene but had been informed of the incident by staff. It is a disgusting reflection of how far our society has fallen when no one inside Plaza Mexico felt the obligation to call 9-1-1 as a 17 year-old was left to bleed to death behind the restaurant.

I, not just as a City Councilor but as a human being who has compassion for others, am disgusted and angered beyond words that an establishment that values their own well-being over the life of another human being was allowed to keep their licenses. Plaza Mexico’s management, and every patron there that night, should be ashamed of themselves for not making the effort to call for help. I am deeply disappointed that only two Licensing Commissioners voted for complete revocation of Plaza Mexico’s licenses. If such a blatant disregard for basic human life does not warrant the revocation of licenses, I ask what does?

Is a dead body necessary?

It deeply troubles, and saddens, me that a six-month suspension and some half-hearted measures like more lighting and a panic button are the price Plaza Mexico’s management pay for such a callous disregard for a 17 year-old’s life. The victim deserves more, the family deserves more, and all residents of Chelsea deserve more. Any establishment that would let someone nearly bleed to death behind their building, ignoring their calls for help and not calling 9-1-1, does not deserve the privilege of operating in our city.

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Making A Difference: Bourdeau Loves Being a Big Brother

Making A Difference: Bourdeau Loves Being a Big Brother

BB Edermeson Bourdeau

After visiting Mexico on a service trip in high school, Meson Bourdeau, now 29, a lifelong resident of Lynn, knew he wanted to make a difference in the community.

“I had always been aware of Big Brothers Big Sisters” Bordeau explained, “Becoming a Big Brother seemed like the best way to give back directly to my community”.

Now, as a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay, Bordeau spends each Sunday mentoring Josh (9), who currently lives with his grandmother in Lynn. As a social worker, Josh’s grandmother was familiar with the benefits of the program. She was so eager for Josh to be matched with a Big Brother that she placed him on the waiting list when he was only five. She was thrilled when Josh was matched with Meson when he turned 8.

In January, Meson and Josh will have been matched for one year. Youth that have been matched with a mentor for at least one year report higher self-confidence and success in school. They are also more likely to avoid risky behavior and have increased trust in adults.

Together, Meson and Josh enjoy going to the movies, exploring the city, or taking advantage of tickets to sporting events, museums and concerts generous donors offer to Big Brothers. Even simple, everyday activities help them build their friendship. One weekend Josh’s grandmother suggested Meson take Josh for a haircut, which has since become a tradition for the duo.

“We’re excited to experience new things together,” Bordeau says.

Bourdeau has already observed the way Josh is benefitting from having a Big Brother. “It’s great to see him responding so well to the program”, he shared.

Despite the positive impact that the growing friendship is having on “Little Brother Josh”, Bordeau admits that it’s similarly had a huge impact on himself as well.

“Being a Big Brother is one of the most fulfilling things that I’ve ever done” said Bordeau.

Unbelievably, there are still more than 800 boys in the Massachusetts Bay area waiting for a Big Brother.  To find out how you can make a difference in a child’s life, please contact Lori Breighner at Lbreighner@bbbsmb.org or visit http://www.bbbsmb.org

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